COUNTDOWN TO 2017 #9: Get Your Parents to Agree to ANYTHING

We’re counting down to January 1st with great ideas for your studio and teaching practice in the new year. Check back each day for a new tip!

Be positive in your communications. “If you’re not excited, no one else will be—especially when you’re making changes,” says Danie Beck, former owner of Dance Unlimited in Miami, who shared that one of her biggest challenges was when she instituted a recital fee. She explained to parents why this fee would allow her to expedite ordering for recital DVDs, T-shirts, photos—that it would result in a positive experience.

“It worked because of how I came across,” she says. “You have to tell them it’s the best thing since chopped liver. If you say, ‘Well, you know, I’m not really sure about this, but we’re going to try it,’ then it’s already lost. That’s why we’re in this business—we’re part actors, as well. You might be dying inside—I was many a time—but I stood up and said, ‘This is fabulous,’ while thinking, ‘I hope this works.’ But it did work, because I let my parents know it was going to.”

 

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Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

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Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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